GTOA company to ‘die’ before it can move forward

Date Posted: 23/01/2014

GTOA membership at the 2014 AGM on Sunday 19th January.

If agreed proposals are carried forward, the Group Travel Organisers Association as we know it will cease to exist on the 31st August 2014, and a new GTOA ‘reborn’ on the 1st September.

Rebekah Tailor makes sense of the situation and looks back on an Annual Showcase Exhibition & AGM weekend that has divided opinion.

The major developments made by the GTOA since it was incorporated in 2011 were declared “null and void” following a range of meetings that took place in Swindon. Significant oversight relating to the Articles of Association has highlighted that the GTOA has been operating illegally under company law for over two years.

This is because, legally, any changes to the Association required approval by 75 per cent of the entire membership - in person or by defined proxy. In reality, decisions were being passed by a two-thirds voting majority of those present. 

As it stands, the GTOA is, as one group organiser described succinctly: “stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

The only way is forward, and to this end the Steering Group (originally appointed to undertake a Governance Review of the GTOA) put forward the consideration that the old GTOA should be allowed to ‘die’ come the end of August.

This would mean that a new Group Travel Organisers Association would form from 1st September, with a new constitution which could include all the proposed changes and improvements input by members and the Steering Group.

A matter for debate

This proposal initiated considerable debate at the AGM on Sunday 19th January, spawning as one source depicted: “strong reactions from the floor… some of the contributions generated more heat than light.”

With less than 75 per cent of membership present or voting by proxy a legal vote could not be counted, however a show of hands voted 95 (plus 35 by proxy) in favour of the new proposals, with nine (plus 11 by proxy) against and two abstentions.

Team GB gymnast Francesca Fox.

Pictured: Team GB gymnast Francesca Fox performed at the Welcome Dinner.

While undoubtedly the crucial matter at hand, it took some time for this debate to be effected owing to the poor organisation of Sunday’s AGM. Those present have described it as ranging from a “strange experience” to “an absolute shambles”. This largely stemmed from the fact that the majority of members did not appear to have been supplied with relevant paperwork, which led to disruption in the first part of the meeting.

The Annual General Meeting did however finish on three key positives. The first, that there is a deciding need for change; the second, that this need was endorsed by the majority who favoured the proposals for a new GTOA.

Commenting on the need for change, one Associate member said: “It was heart-warming to see that the vast majority of GTOs and Associate members are looking ahead and see the need for change. For the GTOA to survive and for me as an Associate to justify the expense, change is the only option. If not, our membership will not be renewed.”

The third positive was a vote in favour of the formation of a new Solent regional branch of the GTOA. As we revealed in December in our interview with chairman Andrea Golder, the aim of this new branch is: “to cater for the true active group travel organiser, giving GTOs what they want and recruiting new blood.”

In light of the proposed resolutions it will be interesting to track development as the year progresses, in the bid to design a blueprint for a new GTOA.

Warm hospitality from VisitWiltshire

Considering the Annual Showcase Exhibition & AGM Weekend as a whole, attending members enjoyed the warm hospitality of VisitWiltshire, as we were treated to two evenings of excellent entertainment, and a variety of familiarisation trips on the Saturday to showcase the region.

At the top of the Tower Tour at Salisbury Cathedral.

Pictured: Admiring the views from the top of Salisbury Cathedral on a Tower Tour.

Friday’s welcome dinner was hosted by STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway in atmospheric surroundings followed by an amazing gymnastics display by Team GB’s Wiltshire-born Francesca Fox.

Saturday evening’s Gala Dinner was hosted at the Hilton Hotel, Swindon, and comprised entertainment from the superb Salisbury Plain Military Wives Choir.

Showcasing Wiltshire’s groups offering

Following a mini exhibition presented by Associate members and local attractions on Saturday morning, a series of afternoon familiarisation trips went on to showcase more of the region’s group attractions; including a taste of the pretty Wiltshire Cotswolds, Longleat House, the medieval city of Salisbury, Stonehenge and Avebury.

The Group Leisure team opted for the City Highlights and Cultural Boltholes tour. Although the unanticipated lengthy coach trip resulted in a whistle-stop visit, we enjoyed a Tower Tour of magnificent Salisbury Cathedral.

Winding 332 steps to reach the foot of the spire, head guide Paul Smith provided historical context and detailed architectural features. The outlook from the top was fantastic, with clear views across the city and out to Old Sarum and the surrounding countryside - definitely a must-do on a group trip to Salisbury.

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